The Federal High Court sitting in Port-Harcourt has ordered the Federal Government to pay the Odi Community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area N37.6bn as compensation for the military invasion 13 years ago.
Three individuals, Professor Kobina Keme-Ebi Imananagha, Chief Ndu Gwagha, Chief Shadrack Agadah, Mr. Idoni Ingezi and Mr Nwaka Echomgbe had sued the Federal Government for the invasion of the Odi Community under the orders of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on November 20, 1999 after the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum Obasanjo had issued the Bayelsa State Government to produce the group of people in the community who had abducted and killed six policemen.
The military expedition on the community left hundreds of people dead, even as all privately-owned property were levelled by the soldiers.
The perceived injustice meted out to the small community was taken to the court of law by various civil organisations.
The plaintiffs, represented by Lucius Nwosu (SAN); Lawal Rabana (SAN) and Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN)had urged the court to declare the military invasion, as well as all the violence meted to the people of the community and their property were “a gross violation of the people’s fundamental human rights to life, dignity, personal liberty” and had asked the court to award them a N20 billion compensation as well as some other reparations.
However, counsel to the Minister of Defence in the matter, Mallam Jimoh Adamu, attempted stalling the judgment delivery by claiming his principal was not served with court processes on the case, but the judge dismissed the objection, stating that the records showed otherwise.
While delivering judgment in a class suit No FHC/PH/CP/11/2000, Justice Lambo Akanbi described the military invasion of the community by troops of the Nigerian Army as genocidal and a gross violation of the rights of the people of the community to life and property ownership.
He also noted that claims by counsel to the President about the mission of the troops to Odi were all false, citing a recent account given by President Goodluck Jonathan on the television, where he asserted that those killed were not militants, but innocent community people, a total departure from the counsel’s claims.